I have long been a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing. I know people went all gaga over EPL (it was pretty great), but if you haven’t yet read The Signature of All Things you are missing out. That book is stunning. Seriously.
So I had to pick up Big Magic when it came out. I don’t usually go in for that kind of book, the I’m-a-big-star-now-I-can-tell-everyone-else-how-to-write, but this wasn’t that. I was totally charmed by the sincere, eager joy that poured off the pages.
Given that, you can imagine my excitement a few days ago when I discovered Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast, Magic Lessons. The basic premise is that she helps artists who are blocked in some way to get over the fear and start doing what they are meant to do. It’s a mix of tough love, respect for art as a tradition, and excitement at the world of possibilities.
Listening to the episodes, I came to realize why my novel is sitting in a drawer. It has to do with the fact that my main character is biracial and I’m terrified of getting her wrong.
I blogged a bit about how and why she is biracial in this post. Since then, I’ve been actively seeking out biracial authors. I’ve read Heidi Durrow’s “The Girl Who Fell from the Sky,” Danielle Evans’s “Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self” (because with a title like that, how could I not?) and Crystal Chan’s “Bird.” I also stumbled onto “Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward – not a biracial story, but a fantastic book about a young black woman in a man’s world. Couldn’t put that one down.
I’ve done some homework, but I keep getting stuck on the idea that reading a bunch of books about being a half-black woman hardly qualifies me to tell the story of a half-black woman. Who am I?
My friend and writing buddy keeps encouraging me to be brave. I made a commitment to pull this story out of the drawer on September 1, and finish it up once and for all. All I have to do is get over myself and just keep writing, but for the first time in my life, the fear is getting the better of me.
Maybe Ms. Gilbert could talk me thought this one.
Liz, if you’re reading this, I could really use some magic lessons. Am I in over my head? Should I move on to another project, or do I push forward and keep writing on this one?